the best things come in small packages
This article first appeared in MEHSTG Volume 2 Issue 48 - December 2005
He might be a bit on the short side, but he is proving to be Tottenham's Mighty Midget, as Barry Levington explains.
With the injury to Wayne Routledge in the very first game of the Premier League season, Martin Jol’s pre-season plans seemed consigned to the waste paper bin. However, he had not banked on the emergence of one of the signings he made in the summer and his introduction into the first eleven has been a bit of a revelation.
Aaron Lennon had, no doubt, been bought by Tottenham as one of the “ones for the future” in the squad. Along with Tom Huddlestone and Calum Davenport, Aaron would be viewed as an understudy for the time being, but with a future place in the side if he can maintain his progress.
Some say we stole him for Leeds United, who could not afford to turn down any reasonable offer for their players with a huge debt hanging over their club, but it took a little while to secure his signature. The original approach took place in January this year, but he was not signed up until the summer and good money was paid for the 18 year old (although officially the sum has not been disclosed) for the Leeds “Player of the Year. ” His sale caused a bit of a fuss among the Yorkshire club’s fans, as nto content with having the crown jewels sold off (Keane, Smith, Kewell, Woodgate), they were now seeing the players of the future leaving the club. Realistically, they had no option but to do so, otherwise there would have been no Leeds United ... Ken Bates or no Ken Bates.
His pre-season action picked him out as one to watch. A speedy break against Stevenage Borough left Fredi Kanoute with a simple scoring opportunity and he showed that the style of Tottenham’s play suited him down to the ground. The way the side played in the Peace Cup showed a reliance on the pace of the right winger to provide an out-ball and the ability to break at speed to hit teams when their own attacks broke down. Routledge’s one-twos opened up defences and set up chances for his team-mates and Lennon has shown that he can fulfil this role, with a developing understanding between him and Paul Stalteri. The experience of the Canadian international will also help Aaron in understanding how and when to cover his colleague.
Having broken into the team ahead of time, it might be that Lennon needs a break and now that Routledge is near match-fit again, that might be soon. Personally would have him on the bench to replace Wayne to make sure the pace attack continues on the right flank.
For me, the Under-21 star has captured the spirit of the way I want to see Spurs play. He gets the ball and the expectation level rises. Not because you want to put pressure on the shoulders of someone so young, but because he is willing to try things. Keano does the same, but with Aaron, there is no blaming anyone else if it goes wrong. He just chases back and tries again. The buzz from the crowd is audible when he gets the ball and in an old fashioned winger way runs directly at his opponent. See how he made the side a more potent attacking force when he entered the play against Sunderland and began running at Gooner Hoyte to add a bit more width to the team’s shape. From pushing forward, the left back had to defend deeper and thus this stopped a possible means of attack for the visitors.
Here's a view we hope plenty of Premiership defenders see of Aaron !!
If you are being picky, you could say that the quality of his crossing needs to be improved and that would probably be fair comment. But this will improve in time and it is a failing that has plagued many wingers over the years. Very few can produce pin-point crosses time after time.
But for the negatives, the positives far outweigh them. His belief in his ability and the impetuosity of youth means that he can be released to play his game, with a reliance on getting back to defend when we have lost the ball. His pace is a frightening weapon and this is what scares defenders to death. If he can hone his shooting and crossing skills, he will be a fine player.
I look forward to seeing him develop in a Spurs shirt to join the ranks of fondly remembered wide-men at the Lane.
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